UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Re-mutualisation or privatisation?

UNISONActive ran a link to the ‘We own it’ anti-privatisation campaign yesterday. Although the new campaign has laudable aims, it is notably disappointing that the arguments against privatisation are contaminated by statements under the ‘better-way’ header on their website (http://weownit.org.uk/content/better-way) which state ‘they [cooperatives and mutuals] can also have a role to play in providing public services.’

I would readily accept that services already fragmented into disparate and exploitative contracts might benefit from some form of ‘re- mutualisation’ bringing together exploited workers into more acceptable working arrangements, such as care worker examples in areas such as Sunderland, it would be entirely wrong for UNISON to be supportive of cooperatives or mutuals as an pretext for truly public service delivery.

To accept coop models as alternatives to privatisation of public services is to in fact accept privatisation. We should continue to campaign against all forms of outsourcing and not be duped by a pervasive language of acceptability that Coops UK, the Cooperative Councils network and other de-politicized naive lobby groups would have us believe is a progressive way forward for public services.

Such approaches take public services back to reliance upon Victorian values of philanthropy and could risk fatally damaging UNISON’s founding principles of public services funded by fair taxation and available to all. These are our primary campaigning objectives against privatisation.

It is one thing to accept the case for some re-mutualisation of already privatised services and quite another to promote outsourcing by way of mutuals or coops. Public services are already ‘mutuals’ – they are owned by us; not by well meaning collectives of individuals who unwittingly support a form of privatisation because they think it will secure them a place in hippy heaven.

Anna Rose